The Civil War Monument
Designed by Jack Howland, a member of the First Colorado Cavalry, “this statue of a Civil War cavalryman, dismounted with rifle in hand, honors the Colorado solider who fought and died in the Civil War”.
Many battles are commemorated on the plaque at the bottom of the statue, and included in the listing is the Sand Creek engagement. Jack Howland and the First Colorado were participants in this November 29, 1864 attack on 700 Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians in Eastern Colorado.
The monument was erected July 24, 1909, to honor all Colorado soldiers who fought in battles in the Civil War and elsewhere. It was paid for by the Pioneer’s Association and the state of Colorado. The sculptor was Swiss born J. Otto Schweizer. He is most noted for creating seven memorials/sculptures on the Gettysburg battlefield including the Lincoln statue inside the Pennsylvania State Memorial and the John Geary statue at Culp’s Hill. His works also include the Molly Pitcher Monument, Carlisle, Pennsylvania and the Monument to Confederate Women at the State Capitol, Little Rock, Arkansas.
Schweizer chiseled into the base of his Denver sculpture a statement that ‘Colorado had the highest average of volunteers in the Civil War of any state or territory in the Union’. Originally, two black walnut trees from the home of Abraham Lincoln flanked the memorial. They are now gone but present are two howitzer cannons produced in 1862 and 1863 by the Revere Copper Company. In 1878, President Grant donated the guns to the Chaffee Light Artillery, which later were incorporated into the Colorado National Guard. When no longer needed, they were eventfully placed at the base of this monument. The guns were recently restored with money from gaming revenue. The guns were last fired August 1 1935, in celebration of Colorado Day. When the acting curator’s clothes caught fire from the salute, the decision was mode to cap the cannons.
In 1999, a retextulization plaque was placed by the memorial interpreting the Sand Creek engagement.
June 25, 2020 the statue was toppled. Two men that were present that day commented to local news, “We have to get rid of every racist monument in this country. We have to do it in our own backyard. I don’t know who did this but I thank them.” The other man added, “I know that (soldier) is one of many men who were part of the Sand Creek Massacre and many other genocidal acts that happened throughout Colorado’s early history.”
Colorado Governor Jared Polis said he is ‘outraged that a Civil War statue in front of the State Capitol was toppled and damaged overnight’. It was reported by witnesses that there was no security and it took 5 to 10 minutes to topple it.